BMA launches artist residency program with philanthropists Betsy and Michael Sherman
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, July 25, 2024

BMA launches artist residency program with philanthropists Betsy and Michael Sherman
Sherman Family Foundation Residency photo by Michael Sherman.

BALTIMORE, MD.- The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced today the formation of the Sherman Family Foundation Residency. The program is established through a generous financial gift from the Sherman Family Foundation and in collaboration with philanthropists Betsy Sherman and her son Michael Sherman, who currently sits on the BMA’s Board of Trustees. The Sherman Family Foundation Residency will, each summer, provide one artist with studio space and financial support to complete ongoing projects, create new work, or simply explore and consider ideas within their practice. As part of the residency, the participating artist will also have the opportunity to connect with BMA leadership for professional development and to discuss an acquisition of their work. The creation of the residency marks a critical milestone in the BMA’s vision under the leadership of Asma Naeem, the museum’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director, to enhance its support for and position artists at the core of its work.

The residency will formally launch on July 8, 2024, with artist Kenturah Davis, who is based between Los Angeles and Accra, Ghana. In her multifaceted practice, which includes drawing, textiles, sculpture, and performance, Davis examines the fundamental role that language plays in how we understand ourselves and the world in which we exist. She draws inspiration from aspects of portraiture and design to connect with the dynamics of identity. Among her numerous exhibitions and awards, Davis was an inaugural artist fellow at NXTHVN in New Haven and created work that is permanently installed on the new Crenshaw/LAX rail line in Los Angeles. She holds a BA from Occidental College and MFA from the Yale University School of Art.

“We are immensely grateful for Betsy and Michael Sherman’s generosity, vision, and dedication to both supporting artists and our institution,” said Naeem. “As we consider the future of the BMA, we are committed to exploring and experimenting with new ways to uplift the essential work of artists and to expanding the possibilities of the museum within the arts ecosystem. Museums have long been places that collect and present the works of artists. We now have an opportunity to be more active partners, developing robust relationships through time. The BMA is thrilled to advance this approach with the creation of the Sherman Family Foundation Residency, and we look forward to collaborating with our inaugural resident Kenturah Davis and Betsy and Michael Sherman.”

The idea for the residency program first emerged when Betsy and Michael Sherman hosted Brooklyn-based artist Alexander Harrison in a studio space at their home in Maine last year. Harrison’s enigmatic paintings draw on cultural archetypes and personal experiences to explore the impact of deeply rooted racism in America and the importance of representation. During his time in Maine, Harrison produced the painting Mt. Hatchet (2023), which captures a view of the summit of the mountain through the artist’s hands. With the support of the Shermans, the work was acquired by the BMA earlier this year. The experience led to a series of conversations with the museum about creating more consistent pathways for supporting artists in alignment with BMA leadership’s own previously articulated interests in establishing new types of collaborations.

“We are so grateful to be in partnership with the BMA to bring incredible artists to Maine to not only experience its beauty but be able to create work reflecting their time here,” said Michael and Betsy Sherman. “It was a privilege to host Alexander last year and we are so looking forward to welcoming Kenturah and her family to Maine this summer.”

Artists for the Sherman Family Foundation Residency will be jointly chosen by BMA curators and Betsy and Michael Sherman following a selection process guided by the museum. The program will host one artist each summer at the Shermans’ studio space in Maine. Selected artists will be given free lodging, a $5,000 stipend, and financial support for supplies and travel costs. Artists will have opportunities to meet with BMA curators and leadership during their stay in Maine to discuss their work and receive mentorship. The residency is envisioned to serve as a launching point for an ongoing relationship with BMA. After each residency, the museum hopes to acquire a work by the artist for its collection.

Michael Sherman is a movie producer who co-founded Bow and Arrow Entertainment, a production company that focuses on artist driven narrative and documentary pictures. Bow and Arrow has had 13 films premiere at the Sundance film festival as well as many other festivals throughout the world. Sherman is also a devoted patron of the arts and a trustee for his hometown museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Betsy Sherman is a lifelong educator and advocate for children and families. She and her late husband, George, established the Sherman Family Foundation in 1995. Her passion for childhood advocacy began early in her life and continues through her focus on educational opportunities for children and their families. Following graduation from Tufts University with a degree in early childhood education, she was fortunate to be of the first Head Start teachers in Kentucky. These early teaching experiences in Kentucky and rural Virginia drove her desire to help disadvantaged youth. Betsy has been an active board member at the Family Tree for nearly 40 years and has served on several other non-profit boards.

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